Friday, 19 November 2021

Eavestaff Pianos

The beginnings of Eavestaff pianos are somewhat vague and uncertain, but it is likely, as with so many manufacturers of the time, they built and supplied pianos to the music trade. This simply means that finding an early Eavestaff piano with their own name on the front is very unlikely.

The first factory was in Euston Road but moved to Salusbury Road about 1911. Clearly, W.G. Eavestaff had a very keen eye for detail and quality control - his devotion to excellence in piano building established a reputation for reliability.

W.G. Eavestaff died in 1912 leaving his 2 sons. The older, William, died in 1917 and the younger brother, Frank eventually sold the business in 1920 to H.F. and R.A. Brasted. It is thought Frank Eavestaff had some involvement for a while but eventually retired to Hastings. 

Henry Brasted had been making pianos since 1870. Like Eavestaff, his pianos were mostly trade pianos. Sadly, Henry was to die in 1908. His sons Henry, Charles, Frederick, Robert, Albert and his daughter Hilda were to carry the business forward. By the 1930s the business was known as Brasted Brothers Ltd.

The 1920s was not an easy time for Brasteds to take on the Eavestaff name. A number of other proud, established piano makers of the time were having to close their doors. Post war difficulties of supply and skilled labour were tough enough but to sell the finished product at a time of austerity was a bold strategy with an eye to the future.

1923, Brasteds moved to new premises at Hermitage Road, Harringay where they remained for 47 years! Production levels steadily increased from perhaps 50 pianos per week in 1920 up to nearly 200 pianos per week by the late 1930s.

The Minipiano was made at Hermitage Road and sold under the Eavestaff name. The mini generated strong sales due to small size and its relative affordability when compared to the more traditional uprights of the time. Today, the Minipiano is not very much liked by tuners and technicians - certainly the early ones - but if you can find a good example of one of the later models, and one that works well, they are easy to play and have a sweet, very musical tone. Alas not many good examples survive! 

©Steve Burden

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